Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Icebar and restaurant Mayfair

As another location on the 10 places I wanted to visit in London this year, I decided to book a ticket for two to the Icebar in Mayfair for my partners Valentine’s gift (obviously I knew he would be bringing me along with him)

I had heard of the Icebar before but the idea of sitting in a bar in the cold didn’t appeal to me, I’m more of a sitting in the sun with a cocktail type of girl! However I do like to look out for different and quirky places to visit that I can experience as a one off and as I saw a deal on Groupon that included drinks and a meal I went ahead and ordered it.

ice2

The icebar is split into three sections. As you enter and give your details (it is advised to book in advance) you are asked to wait in the normal ‘warm’ bar for the next icebar session to start. You can only stay in the icebar for a maximum of 40 mins so everyone that has booked will enter at the same time.

ice3

ice5

On entering you are given a, not so flattering but very warm, cape to wear and you take your ticket to the bar to redeem for your cocktail. A normal ticket will give you one free drink which is served in a glass made of ice, remember to put your gloves on otherwise it will just slip out of your hand! You are advised to keep that glass if you want to purchase more drinks in this bar as they charge an extra £4 for another one. I was worried about using an ice glass but I actually really liked it, the part you drink from melts with the warmth of your mouth as you drink and it just feels like you have an alcoholic ice lolly.

ice1

ice15

The icebar currently has a theme of ‘wild in the city’ with sculptures of animals enjoying themselves on vacation in London, the theme changes annually and is due to be revamped soon. There is a bit of a nightclub feel with loud music and the lighting occasionally diming. It didn’t feel as cold as I was expecting with it being -5 but it may be because there is quite a lot of people in the small space. As you leave the ice bar the warmth hits you like it does as you step off the aeroplane on a summer holiday.

The restaurant

I was worried that when I booked a meal in the restaurant that I would be sitting huddled in a corner eating in the cold but the restaurant is a stark difference to the bar, in fact it is the complete opposite with the dark wood furnishings and warmth radiating from the two large screens showing a burning fireplace on the wall.

ice6

 

ice7

The voucher that I purchased included a cocktail in the ice bar and a Bellini with the meal. I don’t usually order starters but as the deal included a starter, main and dessert I opted for the Grilled king crab in spicy butter, this included courgette crab roll topped with salmon cavier and the OH ordered coal roasted cauliflower with quails egg.

ice8

ice9

The menu includes a choice of six starters, seven main courses and three desserts, there are also a range of side orders that can be added with an extra charge. The starter was really light with a nice mix of flavours and I hadn’t tried salmon caviar before, they reminded me of the tapioca balls in bubble tea but with a fishy flavour.

Another thing I hadn’t tasted before was monkfish which the OH ordered for his main. I gave it a try and was surprised by the meatiness of the fish, I really liked it and would definitely order it myself in the future. I opted for the cheeseburger, I was sold by the caramel jus flavour and there was a slight sweetness to it, I was more taken by the way it was presented on its own little tray with a couple of sauces in pots and a jar of sliced gherkin (although I forgot to eat those)

ice10

ice11

With only a few choices for dessert we went for the chocolate brownie and the tiramisu ice cream sandwich. The brownie was delicious (what brownie isn’t?) although it was quite a small portion, just as well as the OH wasn’t too keen on his ice cream sandwich so I had to eat some of that too! We were expecting a normal wafer for the sandwich but it was more of a coconut macaroon which looked like a rice cake and was filled with coffee flavoured ice cream.

ice13

ice14

Overall we had a really nice experience at the ice bar and restaurant. I figure if you pay for everything separately it could probably get quite expensive so I would definitely recommend looking out for an offer on Groupon but bear in mind they charge extra for any additional items you order (hello crumble cocktail) and service charge for the entire bill.

Have you ever had cocktails at -5 degrees?

Posted in London, Photography, Uncategorized

Fashion and Portrait in Covent Garden

I am in the process of updating my photography website and realised that my portfolio is lacking photos of people. I have photographed at events and photograph people around me all the time but as most of my projects focus on places and street photography, it is rare that I get someone to happily pose for me (it is usually my kids avoiding the camera at all costs)

So recently I have done a few shoots with fashion bloggers in and around London, the first being this shoot with Nupur in Covent Garden.

Nealsyard13

 

Nealsyard1

Nupur came well prepared with lots of outfits and was a natural in front of the camera which made it really easy for me to shoot. We started at Neal’s yard which is a small yard down the road from Covent garden but is filled with colourful buildings, it is also filled with lots of people and it seemed to be a popular choice for photographers so we didn’t stick around too long and moved on to the more spacious Covent garden market.

coventgarden14

coventgarden2

coventgarden22

suppa2

We ended the shoot by grabbing some lunch at the very healthy Suppa in Holborn which does a tasty chilli!

I was a bit nervous about shooting in such a public place but when you are busy taking photos you actually forget that there are people around you and in places like central London where it is so busy, nobody seems to care as they are all rushing around doing their own thing.

I was really pleased with how the pictures turned out and shooting fashion and portrait on location was much more fun than I expected. I am hoping to do a lot more shoots with bloggers in the future and I am currently offering a limited number at a reduced rate for anyone who wants to do a shoot in London. So, if you are working on a particular post or just want to update your profiles then get in touch. You don’t need to be a model or have any experience shooting outdoors, anyone is welcome!

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Mother’s day brunch with Gradz bakery

As I was sent a lovely package of fine artisan breads from Gradz bakery right before mother’s day I thought it would be perfect for having our own celebratory brunch rather than going out and spending lots of money at a restaurant.

gradz11

Our delivery, which was lovingly gift wrapped, contained the six varieties of bread that are currently stocked in Ocado. You can also find the bread in independent delis, health food stores and health conscious cafes and restaurants.

  • Spirulina & Pumpkin Seed Bread
  • Handcrafted Amaranth Bread 
  • Oats and Flax Sourdough 
  • Rye 100% with Honey
  • Gluten Free Dark with Seeds
  • Gluten Free Dark with Sunflower Seeds

As a family of six we manage to eat our way through a lot of bread so rarely treat ourselves to anything fancy, it was nice to try different flavours and I didn’t feel so guilty about adding that extra slice to my plate knowing how healthy the bread is compared to the normal white loaf.

gradz9

gradz8

The packaging is full of information and the first thing I noticed was how soft and bouncy the bread felt when I picked it up.

Here is a statement about how the Gradz bakery was founded:

The Gradz Story
Master bakers Agnes Gabriel and Romuald Damaz have always been passionate about making healthy, delicious bread. When they discovered a treasure of family recipes hand-written by Agne’s Grandfather, they were inspired to establish the Gradz (Gabriel Romuald Agnes Damaz) bakery and share their tradition of continental-style baking with Britain.
Each numbered recipe in her Grandfather’s book brought cherished memories and baking ideas to Agnes and Romuald. By adding their knowledge, skill and expertise, the Gradz master bakers have developed traditional bread with today’s tastes and health benefits.

For our Mother’s day brunch we had a selection of toppings to go with the bread, including cheeses, pate, salad and the quintessential dish on any brunch menu; avocado and poached eggs!

gradz1

gradz5

gradz2

The bread was really delicious and considering my kids had a bit of a moan that they don’t like seeds in their bread they seemed to consume a fair amount of it! It is no surprise that Gradz have been winners at the world bakery awards!

Considering all the normal motherly duties didn’t disappear on Mother’s day I still had a lovely time and received lots of thoughtful gifts. How did you spend Mothering Sunday?

If you want to find out more about this artisan bread maker then checkout their website!

Posted in London, Photography, Uncategorized

Gursky – Hayward Gallery

The Hayward is a newly refurbished, world renowned contemporary art gallery along the Southbank in London that has just reopened in all its brutalist glory after two years.

This was my first visit to the Hayward and I was quite excited to see the work of Andreas Gursky after seeing his work in books and online over the past few years, you really don’t get to appreciate the scale of his work until you are standing next to it looming over you.

gursky20

You may be aware of Gursky as he previously held the title for taking the most expensive photograph ever when his photo Rhine II (above) sold for $4.3 million in 2011. It was nice to see the photo up close although I must say it is not one of my favourite pieces and I wasn’t that impressed by it!

gursky2

There were a few smaller photos but it was his very large scale images that really got my attention, I loved to look at them from afar and then go up close to see all the detail. Particularly the one at the airport and the block of flats where you could actually see into the windows. (maybe I’m just nosey)

gursky14gursky15

gursky7

You may notice a lot of people in my photos, the exhibition was quite busy but I could have probably photographed the pictures without onlookers, I do however enjoy seeing the way people interact with the work as much as looking at the work itself.

gursky18

gursky22

gursky19

Gursky is known for his spectacular large scale architecture, landscape photos that often feature crowds and global economy or contemporary life. A statement from the Southbank centre website states:

Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a ‘democratic’ perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.

gursky11

gursky9

gursky4

gursky8

You may think from seeing this post that you don’t need to see the exhibition because I have shown it all to you but I don’t think I even photographed half of the pictures in this show, the gallery is huge and just when you think you have seen it all you turn a corner and there are more photos. The work goes right back to the 70s so it is a large collection and probably one of my favourite photography exhibitions I have seen (and I have seen a fair few)

Are you a fan of the work of Gursky or visited the exhibition?

Gursky at the Hayward runs until 22 April so there is still plenty of time to get down there. A gift aided standard ticket costs £16 with various concessions available with kids under 12 going free. Check out the website for further details.

Posted in London, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Show – ExCel London

 

We descended on the Excel centre in London last week to visit our first ever travel show. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was hoping to get some inspiration for places to travel to in the future and hopefully get some information about countries that we are already planning a holiday to this year.

We were blown away by how massive the Excel Centre is and the travel show only took up a small space within it. We thought the room that held the Travel Show was really large but soon found out that most of it was actually taken up by the Bike Show so the Travel Exhibition wasn’t as big as expected and didn’t take too long to walk around.

travel2

travel3

travel4

travel5

There was a talk about cruises on but we had already missed the beginning so didn’t stick around to listen, we also came across chef Lesley Waters cooking up a storm and talking about her own travel experiences. As well as looking at destinations there was a few hands on activities such as getting a massage, playing some crazy golf and trying out the seating with Singapore airlines, including the very plush booths which are like tiny hotel rooms.

travel11

travel8

Unfortunately we didn’t come across any representatives for Holland or Dominican Republic as we are planning on visiting both places this year and would have liked some information but we enjoyed perusing between countries and came away with the desire to go travelling around Africa and Canada by rail as they both looked amazing from the photos!

We were not expecting to see holidays for sale but there were two really good offers to stay in Scotland and Malta for £99 per person, these looked like amazing opportunities but with a large family we like to research where we are going beforehand and have a good read of small print and these unfortunately had to be booked on the spot.

travel12

travel9

travel6

travel10

The travel show is really useful if you are free to jet off  at the drop of a hat and need inspiration or want to speak to certain tourists boards, some were a bit more approachable and friendly than others. We left the Travel Show with lots of brochures to look through and ideas of places to travel to in the future!

Where are you planning to go this year?